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  • Editors' Notes
  • John David Zuern and Craig Howes

International Year in Review

Biography's International Year in Review is returning after a one-year hiatus, during which time our editorial team took stock of the feature's accomplishments since its launch in 2016 and reflected on its possible future directions. One change is evident in the essays in this issue: we have asked contributors to focus on a single work of life writing (broadly conceived, as always) that they find especially noteworthy, ideally one that speaks to them personally as readers and scholars.

We were glad—and sometimes moved—to see how the authors embraced this invitation. In his review of Marighella, a biopic of the communist militant Carlos Marighella, Sergio da Silva Barcellos recalls his own involvement in the movement for democratic elections in Brazil in the 1980s. Emma Maguire incorporates a reflection on the limitations of slogans against sexual violence on posters at her Australian university into her discussion of the journalist Lucia Osborn-Crowley's memoir My Body Keeps Your Secrets, an account of Osborn-Crowley's confrontation with the trauma of a sexual assault early in her life. Marianne Høyen's concerns about the increase in air and noise pollution after a lull during the COVID-19 pandemic informs her examination of the Danish meteorologist Jesper Theilgaard's narrative of his work to broaden public understanding of the causes and effects of climate change. Liam Harte takes up the memoir Belonging by the historian Catherine Corless, whose research revealed that in the first half of the twentieth century the bodies of hundreds of children had been buried in an unmarked mass grave at St Mary's Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, Ireland. In the conclusion of his essay, Harte reveals a striking personal connection to this topic, which I will leave to our readers to discover on their own.

Several of the essays collected here examine life writing by and about politicians and activists. Monica Soeting's lively engagement with René van Stipriaan's biography of William of Orange shows how van Stipriaan's scrupulous research infuses vitality and complexity into shopworn tributes to the Dutch national hero; Gabriel Jaime Murillo-Arango's essay describes the impact of a profile of Gustavo Petro Urrego, Colombia's first left-wing president, which appeared at the height of a campaign that resulted in Urrego's election in 2022; Ilaria Serra reviews the autobiography of Gino Strada, the founder of an NGO providing aid for civilians impacted by war; and Gerardo Necoechea Gracia examines a collectively authored portrait of Mexican human rights advocate Lucía Castro.

Three contributors to this issue focus on life writing by poets. Kirsi Tuohela and Maarit Leskelä-Kärki celebrate the launch of Kerstin Söderholm, a website [End Page v] presenting both an edition and a facsimile of the diary of the twentieth-century Finnish poet who wrote in Swedish, one of Finland's two national languages. Zeina Hashem Beck's collection O, which explores and critiques the conflation of womanhood and motherhood in Lebanese culture, is the focus of Sleiman El Hajj's essay. Tom Overton's contribution begins by reminding us that "the UK" comprises people and places other than England, and he goes on to describe how voting on Brexit illuminated political fault lines in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and the rest of the United Kingdom. He concludes with a discussion of Outlandish, a 2023 collection of poetry by Jo Clement that critiques the marginalization of Gypsy, Roma, and Travellers through what Overton calls "the violent politics of borders" in the past and the present.

Overton's essay provokes a question that has occupied me since the start of the International Year in Review: how feasible is it to organize the feature along the lines of political geography? The impact of many works of life writing extends well beyond the borders of the country in which it happens to be published, so in some cases our standard title "The Year in …" turns out to be arbitrarily constraining. This year we decided on "The Year in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland" for Tobias Heinrich's review of the volume of intimate...